Monday Apr 23, 2012

Oracle Usability Advisory Board Europe Globalization Working Group April 2012 Debrief

Doors to manual! The Oracle Usability Advisory Board (OUAB) Europe met in the Oracle Thames Valley Park, UK and Oracle Geneva offices on the 17th and 19th of April 2012, respectively. These were the biggest and best European meetings yet (with nearly 30 people present); a testament to the importance of, and customer and partner interest, in applications user experience (UX) not just in the EMEA region, but worldwide.

Sten Vesterli of Scott/Tiger Explaining about Usability (and other) Superheroes

Sten Vesterli of Scott/Tiger Explaining about usability (and other) superheroes. Picture by Ultan O'Broin.

There was a top-notch agenda for both meetings, with rich, engaging content, demos of Oracle Fusion Applications UX innovations and concepts, opportunities to input into new designs and features, data gathering exercises, updates from new Board members and from Oracle too on UX and strategic activities. With networking and communication strengthened on personal and professional levels, I have to say, it was fun too, and all conducted in a spirit of candid openness and good humor!

Particular highlights for me were the sessions on designing usable icons for international applications, delivered by Applications User Experience colleagues Lulit Bezuayehu and Eric Stilan, and the gobsmackingly-brilliant keynote in Geneva by Fusion User Experience Advocate and Oracle Ace Director Sten Vesterli (@stenvesterli) of Scott/Tiger called Superhero Usability.

Lulit Bezuayehu and Eric Stilan of Oracle talking in TVP about usable icon design.

Lulit Bezuayehu and Eric Stilan of Oracle talking in TVP about usable icon design. Picture by Anna Wichansky.

In the globalization working group space, my main activities were to elicit feedback from OUAB members on language preferences and search of translated content in the Oracle Fusion Applications Help (see this great white paper for more information). I delivered an update on the Fusion apps translation releases, and explained what was translated and the strategy behind such decisions.  I also gathered data about international interest in mobile applications UX, about gamification, and about browser usage by bi-di language-speaking apps users.

My main observations from the globalization-related side of the Board interactions are:

  • Customers on existing apps are still reporting insufficient space for expansion of names and issues with cross-cultural requirements for apps users. I will take a personal action to follow up.
  • Deployment of mobile solutions and interest in tablet devices in the enterprise in particular is increasing, big time. A hot topic in EMEA for sure, and as you can ascertain from Oracle's new Oracle Fusion Tap for Oracle Fusion Applications web site, a strategic one too.
  • There is emerging interest in enterprise apps gamification, particularly in CRM and HCM space. However, more outreach on the potential and what it actually means in the apps space is needed. Not as strong as in the US at present, but definitely there.
  • Generally, there appears to be no requirement for apps customers to search in the same place for help translated into multiple languages beyond two at most perhaps. However, research continues on this, so no real conclusion there yet.
  • Customers are adopting enterprise apps cloud solutions, and other deployments too naturally, that require language versions on UX grounds, which is great! Cloud-based translated versions for SMEs in EMEA too, are, surprise, surprise, a requirement for success.
  • Machine translated (MT) apps help content. Oh dear! WTF has happened here with user expectations? Mentioned at the Board, the reaction from members about MT told me much about the issue of translations quality but also about the prescience of what is happening in the personal and consumer space influencing enterprise applications UX expectations (a good thing). Oracle MT is not like Google Translate, but is domain specific and quality oriented with human input and verification before release. It is very encouraging that OUAB members continue to care about the quality of the translated content. But, we (OUAB)  need to communicate in plain language (duh) about what improvements in enterprise applications translation technology really means for customers and partners in terms of their user experience. Context of use, and all that. My action item.

Watch out for other blogs covering the non-globalization side of events. In all, the OUAB Europe events were a very valuable exercise, and here's to more OUAB events outside of the US! If your organization would like to participate, then check out the OUAB section of the usableapps web site.

Again, thanks to all the OUAB members for participating, and a big shout out to colleagues Anna Wichansky and Alisa Hamai for their hard work in making this program so successful worldwide.

Saturday May 07, 2011

Notes from the Oracle Usability Advisory Board Globalization Working Group

I am really happy with the outcome of the inaugural globalization (internationalization, localization, and translation) working group sessions at the Oracle Usability Advisory Board Europe in the Oracle office's in Thames Valley Park, near Reading in the UK.

A large number of customers and partners from EMEA were in attendance, and representatives from Oracle Apps-UX and development flew in from the US and Ireland (i.e, me), along with participation from local Oracle teams.

The translation part of the event opened with a great presentation by Bettina Reichart, Director with the Oracle Worldwide Product Translation Group (WPTG). Bettina explained the importance of translatability as part of the product development effort, the WPTG language quality process, about terminology development, and how customers can participate in translated applications assessments.

Customers and partners are always interested to know about internal Oracle processes and how they can interact with them, and I intend offering more of such sessions at future meetings, covering localization, internationalization, and other topics too.

Pseudotranslated Oracle EBS screen (Pseudotranslated environments and testing are central to internationalization in Oracle. We will cover this topic and other Oracle apps processes in more detail at a future OUAB)

The data gathering exercise I designed for board members, asking them to identify their top internationalization, localization and translation issues and how they  impacted usability was a big success too. We discussed the findings and the possible follow ups in a lively, fully attended working group session that seemed to take on a life of its own! We addressed issues such as lack of space for expansion of text, partial translation issues, the importance of localization (in the Oracle enterprise apps space this means support for statutory and reporting requirements for countries and regions - VAT, for example) and questions about terminology and language style. I will follow up with each customer and partner.

But there was more. I was delighted that the board members astutely exposed more complex areas about international versions such as the need to cater for connectivity and bandwidth issues,  and it was so encouraging to hear customers offer insights about the importance of language as a user experience topic, ranging from the more tangible aspects (productivity, and the need for extensibility and customization solutions, for example) to the more intangible aspects about how language it can impact employee loyalty and user perception. I firmly believe that as individual user expectations change we need to explore language aspects more and how we can allowing users to have the language they really want. Vanilla already doesn't cut it.

Finally, it was great to spend some time with my friends in the HCM Localization and information development teams too. And of course, to spend some time in Reading again!

Wednesday Mar 02, 2011

OUAB Europe Globalization Topics

Pleased to announce that the Oracle Usability Advisory Board has added a globalization workgroup (for internationalization, localization, and translation issues) for 2011.

The aims of this workgroup, broadly, are:

  • To understand how our customers use translated versions of applications.
  • To identify key international support, translation and localization-related usability issues in deployed applications.
  • To make recommendations to Oracle usability and development teams about meeting global customer usability requirements in current and future versions of our applications. 
regional_ebs_settings.png
Potential areas include: How international users use applications when working, ethnography opportunities, key cultural impacts on usability; internationalization and multilingual support (MLS) feature usage, localization of forms and reports, language quality, extensibility, translation of user assistance, user-generated and rich-media content like UPK, and international mobile application opportunities. Plus whatever the OUAB members agree should be looked at! More details the organization of the group is available on the usableapps.oracle.com website  (scroll down to the "Charter" section).
About

Oracle applications global user experience (UX): Culture, localization, internationalization, language, personalization, more. For globally-savvy UX people, so that it all fits together for Oracle's worldwide customers.

Audience: Enterprise applications translation and localization topics for the user experience professional (designers, engineers, developers, researchers)!
Profile

Ultan Ó Broin. Director, Global Applications User Experience, Oracle Corporation. On Twitter: @localization

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